Narcotic drugs and alcohol are very physically addictive substances accounting for the rise in drug and alcohol addiction rates yearly. Once the body is dependent on the substance for normality, the absence of the substance will cause great pain and discomfort to be inflicted on the individual, known as withdrawal.
Drug and alcohol addiction counselling and detox are highly controversial topics and met with many mixed beliefs and schools of thought, especially when physical and non-physical drug addiction is concerned. Unlike previously when addiction was considered a moral failing, professionals have now been opting towards a more successful approach of addiction treatment. Many experts and professionals have come to view addiction as a disease which is progressive and fatal if not treated. The disease can however be arrested through ceasing all addictive behaviour accompanied by counselling and a daily programme of recovery.
Physical addiction and the need for detox
Opiates such as heroin and codeine, benzodiazepines such as Valium and Rohypnol, some amphetamines such as methamphetamines (eg Tik) and ethyl-alcohol (the type of alcohol found in regular alcoholic drinks such as whisky and beer), are substances which the human body becomes dependant on when exposed to their effects over a certain period of time. Quaaludes, anabolic steroids, beta blockers, caffeine and nicotine also cause dependence.
Physical dependency can only be overcome through the addicted individual abstaining from use of the addictive substances. This will cause the body to go into a state of withdrawal, as it is dependent on the substance for functioning.
Treatment centres, rehabilitation centres and hospitals usually offer detoxification programmes for drug and alcohol addiction. Detoxification can be extremely harmful, even fatal. The process is nick-named “detox” and is carefully monitored by professionals.
In many instances, the patient is given medication to ease their discomfort during the detox. This discomfort usually results in the use of drugs to rid themselves of the symptoms. It has been found that regulated and decreasing doses of a pharmaceutical replacement with similar actions as an addictive drug is useful in allowing addicts to be “weaned off” the substance without unbearable discomfort.
When an addict or alcoholic is willing to enter a treatment programme to treat their addiction, many rehab centres require that patients are “clean” of all drugs and substances. The patient will need generally to pass a drug or alcohol test indicating that their systems are free of substances. If a client enters a treatment programme whilst still under the influence of a narcotic or alcohol, it may affect the safety of the other clients and the individual themselves.
The process of a drug and alcohol detox differs for each treatment centre offering the service. Some rehabs do not offer detoxes and require the client to attend a detox in a hospital or separate clinic as the rehab may not have the correct facilities to offer detoxification. The process is an extremely difficult ordeal for the addict to experience and must be handled with a great deal of professionalism. Alcoholic detoxes can cause delirium tremors, inducing hallucinations and violent behaviour. Only qualified, experienced and able professionals should administer a detox to a withdrawing addict or alcoholic.
A detox programme can take a week or more to complete, although secondary withdrawals will follow after this; they are less severe than initial withdrawals, not requiring medication or facilitation. Once a detox has been completed, the client is advised to enter an addiction treatment programme at a rehab.
Drug and alcohol addiction counselling is an effective method of treating any form of addiction, helping the client to become a normal and functioning member of society. Group therapy and individual therapy is widely considered the most effective method of drug and alcohol addiction treatment, coupled with a healthy lifestyle and the adoption of a Twelve Step Programme as a way of maintaining abstinence and sobriety.
Counselling and a Twelve Step Programme help to enable the patient to cope with behaviours, past grievances, emotions and dynamics in their lives and to piece together a practical and realistic approach to life. Whilst the patient needs to stop using drugs and alcohol, counselling will help improve their lives much further. Abstinence plus change is the main aim of a recovering addict.
The life of a drug addict and alcoholic needn’t be bad or hindered. Addicts have the potential to be very successful and productive people if they are able to stop their drug and alcohol use. Whilst this may require a detox, if followed with proper counselling and therapy plus the endorsement of a healthy lifestyle and application to a Twelve Step Programme, the person suffering from drug or alcohol addiction can arrest their disease and live a normal life again.